Thursday, 09 November 2017 06:13

Swift Current Market Square wins a provincial municipal award

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Market Square provides a market, entertainment and has been a source of a go-to place for residents on many Saturdays. Market Square provides a market, entertainment and has been a source of a go-to place for residents on many Saturdays.

Swift Current's Market Square has become an important fixture of the summer activities in the downtown area for the past seven seasons, and now it has been recognized with a provincial award.


The City of Swift Current won first place for Market Square in the 2017 Saskatchewan Municipal Awards.
Marlene Johnson, the executive assistant to the office of the Swift Current Mayor and CAO, has been actively involved with Market Square from the start. She views this provincial award as a significant benefit to the community.
“To be recognized provincially is absolutely amazing because if anything it puts Swift Current on the map,” she said. “People that don’t know about it already will want to come and check it out and see what’s going on, and I just think it’s really great for the community as a whole.”
The Saskatchewan Municipal Awards program was established in 2006 to recognize and celebrate the excellence and innovation of municipal governments in the province.
The program is a joint partnership between New North, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM), the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA), the Rural Municipal Administrators’ Association of Saskatchewan (RMAA), the Urban Municipal Administrator Association of Saskatchewan (UMAAS), and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Government Relations.
The award will be presented to the City of Swift Current at the SUMA convention on Feb. 6, 2018. Municipalities can nominate projects or initiatives within their jurisdictions that demonstrate aspects such as good governance, effective management, public engagement, innovation, sustainability, and capacity building.
“For the Saskatchewan Municipal Awards you have to submit a proposal,” she explained. “Each municipality or town or village submit proposals each and every year. Something that they have done, like there are different communities that have done water treatment plants, and they have different categories. We've submitted a proposal for a few different things in the community and we ended up that Swift Current Market Square won.”
Market Square was entered in a category for a winning practice. It received the award because the development of Market Square helped to revitalize the downtown while engaging local businesses, artisans, farmers and City administration on economic development.
“The development of the Market Square was inspired by City council,” she said. “They wanted it to be promoted as a cooperative community development promoting tourism and to bring more people to the downtown core. Market Square has helped out all the businesses in the area as well. It has just grown exponentially since 2011.”
Market Square has become an established part of the summer activities in Swift Current, but during the early years it faced some challenges.
“The challenge at the very beginning was to get people to buy into it,” she said. “There’s weather, there’s all different things where people have said we’ve tried that before, it hasn’t worked, and different things like that, but we just thought that if we just kept at it rain or shine that people would want to come down.”
The intention was to develop a family-oriented event with activities to appeal to young and old, and to give them something to do on a Saturday that will not cost a lot.
“So we give out free popcorn on behalf of the City, give the kids balloons, have a bouncy castle, have something for kids to do, have something that will draw the adults, and to have the live music that would be a draw as well,” she said.
According to Johnson the partnership with the Swift Current and District Farmers Market made a significant difference to the growth of Market Square. These vendors previously sold their goods at the Swift Current Mall, but since 2012 they are offering a variety of fresh produce in a large tent set up as part of Market Square.
“That's when everything took off, because without that partnership it wouldn't be what it is today either,” she said. “We consider every one of our vendors a true partner in our success as well.”
In addition to the fresh produce vendors under the tent, a variety of other vendors have tables set up at Market Square during the summer. They vary from food vendors to artists and craftspeople.
“It’s a great way for them to promote their business, get their name out there,” she said. “There are so many people that pass through the market that it would just be awesome for them to have a booth there so that they can promote their business. It helps all the businesses downtown as well, because they don’t just stay at the market, they continue down the streets.”
Another part of Market Square’s success is the involvement of different sponsors, but she considers the support of the community to be the key ingredient in the success of Market Square.
“The most vital is our patrons, because our entire community has supported it,” she said. “So many visitors that come to the market make it possible for us to improve it each and every year. … I’m just so happy that the community warmed up to the idea and that made it what it is today, and that the businesses have supported the Market Square. I’m just so grateful for that, and we couldn’t do it without the community and the people that come. They’re the most important.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

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